IELTS & TOEFL — The easy way to improve your vocabulary for English exams

IELTS & TOEFL — The easy way to improve your vocabulary for English exams

Hi, my name is Rebecca. and in today’s lesson I’m going to show you how to stop using lazy English and start using energetic English. How do you do this? Very easy. For the next few minutes I’d like you to participate in a little experiment with me. I’d like you to pretend that you are a professor and join me in checking these sentences on the board.

So, six students wrote these sentences in an English exam, and what I’d like you to do is to help me to decide which students, which two students should get the highest marks. Let’s start looking at the sentences. Number one wrote:

  1. It was a good lecture.
  2. It was an interesting lecture.
  3. It was an informative lecture.Out of these three students, which student do you think should get the highest marks?
    Think about it. Well, according to me, it would be the third student.
    So, let’s look at another set of sentences.
  4. I had a bad week.
  5. I had a tiring week.
  6. I had an exhausting week…. Again, put on your professor’s cap and tell me: which student do you think should get the best marks? Which one? Well, according to me, it would be student number six.
    Now, why did we, I think you probably chose the same ones as me, why did we choose student number three and student number six? Why did we choose these responses? And why didn’t we choose one and four? Because one and four use the words «good» and «bad». And what I’d like you to learn in this lesson is to use any words when you are speaking or writing other than «good» or «bad». Why? Because «good» and «bad» are overly used, they’re rather boring words, and they’re not very descriptive words; they don’t tell us anything specific, they’re very vague, they’re very general.What I’d like you to do instead is to do what these other students went on to do which is to be more detailed, more specific, more descriptive, more energetic, more dynamic in your speaking and in your writing.
    This one change will make a tremendous difference in the way that you speak and definitely in the way that you write.
    This is a rally important lesson if you’re planning to appear for the TOEFL, or the IELTS, or the TOEIC exam, or any English proficiency exam, or even if you’re just in school and you’re submitting assignments and essays. This one technic of getting rid of the words «good» and «bad» and replacing them with more interesting words is going to give a much higher score. Next, I’ll show exactly how you can do this. So, now I’ll show how to avoid using the lazy words: «good», «nice» , or «bad» , and start using more powerful words instead. All right? You’re going to go from basic, to the intermediate, to the advanced level word or you could say the more vague word, general word to a clear word, to a more specific word. Okay? That’s what you want to keep in mind, when you’re coming up with your words. I’ve just given you some examples, but you can certainly come up with lots of other examples. Let’s look at some of these.
    BASIC                       INTERMEDIATE                ADVANCED
    good (meal)                        tasty                                        delicious
    nice (evening)                     fun                                         enjoyable
    good (meeting)                useful                                       productive
    nice (holiday)                   pleasant                                  delightful
    nice (holiday)                   quiet                                         relaxing
    bad (journey)                   difficult                                   problematic
    bad (experience)              scary                                        traumatic
    bad (day)                            hard                                        stressful
    bad (song)                          sad                                           depressing
    bad (weather)                    cold                                        freezing
    _____________________________________________A good meal. A tasty meal. A delicious meal.
    We had a nice evening. We had a fun evening. We han an enjoyable evening.
    It was a really good meeting. It was a useful meeting. It was a productive meeting.
    You see how I’m adding so much more informationwith the more powerful vocabulary. Right? More detailed vocabulary.
    We had a nice holiday… Well, what is «nice»? «Nice» is a very general word. If you want to stay general, you can still use a better word. So, here I’ve given you an example: we had a pleasant holiday. We had a delightful holiday. That’s if you want to stay more general. If, by «nice holiday», you meant that it was really a quiet holiday, than say: «quiet.»
    A better word than quiet is: we had a relaxing holiday. Okay? So you see how you’re being more specific because when I say: «I had a nice holiday», it doesn’t tell you very much; just gives you a very general impression. Let’s continue with using the word «bad». Also another very overused word.
    It was a really bad journey. It was a difficult journey. It was a problematic journey. «Problematic» means there were many problems
    that you had or that you encountered on the way, during your journey.It was such a bad experience. It was such a scary experience. It was a traumatic experience (from the word «trauma»).
    Okay? Now, obviously, the intensity can also change. So, it depends what you want to say, but sometimes it’s more ineresting when you change the intensity as well.
    I had such a bad day. I had a really hard day. I had an extremely stressful day. Okay? You can see I’m changing many words there.
    That’s a bad song. That’s a sad song. That’s a depressing song.
    Okay? Now, here I changed… Of course «bad» and «sad» don’t mean the same thing, but I gave it a particular meaning. All right? So, in this case,
    it was bad for me because it was sad, or even better: it was depressing.
    Or… it coould be a bad song for many other reasons.
    This country has such bad weather sometimes. Such cold weather.Such freezing weather or such arctic weather. All right? This is an example of what you can do to stop using lazy English and start using more energetic English. This is a wonderful game, you can play it by yourself when you’re on the bus, or while you’re walking down the street, or in the subway, look at people around you, look at places around you. Try to think of words to describe them. Start with positive things: «She looks good.» «She looks pretty.» «She looks beautiful.» Okay? Things like that or about a place…Try to avoid «good», «nice», «bad». Even «interesting» is overly used. So try to find better and better words. After a little while it’ll become a second nature. «It will become second nature» means it will come to you more automatically to use a more interesting word, a more dynamic word, and a more energetic word than simply saying: «good» or «bad».
    I’ve also done something for you. I’ve written a resource on our website , where I’ve written a list of words that you could use instead of saying «good» or «bad» to describe a variety of different things …

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